Assault causing death is an offence under section 25A of the Crimes Act 1900.

Elements of the offence

To establish this offence the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. The accused assaulted another person by intentionally hitting them with any part of the accused’s body or with an object held by the accused;
  2. The assault was not authorised or excused by the law; and
  3. The assault caused the other person’s death.

‘Causing death’ includes the death occurring as a result of hitting the ground or another object.

The prosecution does not need to prove the death was reasonably foreseeable and, unlike a murder charge, the prosecution does not have to establish that you intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to the deceased, or otherwise acted with reckless indifference to human life.


Self-defence is the main defence to this charge.

Section 418 of the Crimes Act 1900 provides that you are not criminally responsible for an offence if:

  • You believed your conduct was necessary:
    • To defend yourself or another person; or
    • To prevent the unlawful deprivation of your liberty or another person’s; or
    • To protect your property from being taken, destroyed, damaged or interfered with, or to prevent criminal trespass to your land, or remove a person criminally trespassing; and
  • Your conduct was a reasonable response in the circumstances as you perceived them.

To rely on self-defence, there must be evidence capable of supporting a reasonable inference that you acted in accordance with the section.

Once self-defence is raised, the prosecution must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defence applies in the circumstances. If the prosecution is unable to do so you are entitled to an acquittal or a finding of not guilty.


The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty increases to 25 years where you were an adult and intoxicated at the time. This is a very serious offence and in many cases upon conviction, a sentence of full-time imprisonment is imposed.

If you have been charged with an assault causing death, call Karnib & Co Lawyers at any time on 0450503696 or email us on [email protected] to arrange a free consultation. For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime anywhere around the world.